|Two fundamentals of Open Space: passion and responsibility. |
Without passion, nobody is interested.
Without responsibility, nothing will get done.
I am often asked to facilitate large groups of people who need to reach a shared understanding of a challenge, decide where to focus and what do to next. There are lots of ways to do that, but I particularly like the Open Space methodology because it doesn’t discriminate, it means that everyone in the room has a chance to contribute, irrespective of experience.
Open Space is energetic, memorable, creative and quick. It works best in the early stages of a change programme, the moment where you have an opportunity or challenge and want to engage a large, diverse and disparate group to help you solve it.
It can help to develop working relationships and a sense of community.
Things to be aware of …
The discussion is completely open, the people taking part choose the themes that matter to them, so it won’t work if you have specific outcomes in mind.
As the organiser you must commit to following up, this is not an “event fixes everything” moment, you have to take each theme and commit to doing something after the event. However, the beauty of Open Space is that you have an already identified group of people who are passionate and interested in helping you.
You need space – it’s called Open Space for more reasons than one, you need space for people to sit in a circle and then additional space behind with tables for group activities.
You need food – it’s a high energy activity – lots of moving around, discussion, debate – so people need nourishment.